Participation in physical activity (PA) during childhood can help to reduce the onset of risk factors associated with ill health. Recommendations for healthy levels of PA for children have been established by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE guidelines, 2004: children should accumulate at least 60 min of moderate and vigorous PA on most if not all days of the week). Lack of information about Italian children has made it impossible to assess proportions of children meeting the recommendations. The aim of this study was to objectively measure PA behavior in a sample of 8 to 12 yr-old children in order to investigate if they fulfilled NASPE PA guidelines. 16 healthy children (age, 9.1 ± 1.2 yr; BMI, 19.8 ± 4.6 kg / m2; RMR, 4406.8 ± 1758.6 kjoule / d; VO2max, 39.9 ± 8, 2 ml / kg / min) were monitored during a whole week in winter and in summer with a Actiheart (AH) monitor (Cambridge Neurotechnology, UK). The AH is directly attached to the chest with two standard ECG electrodes and it is able to measure acceleration, heart rate (HR), HR variability and ECG magnitude for objectively measuring PA and inferring time spent in sedentary or light (SLPA, <3 METS ) to moderate (MPA, 3-6 METS) and vigorous (VPA,> 6 METS) intensity. Data presented provide a minimum of four days of 10-h valid recording per week (the choice of 4 d ensures that at least 1 weekend day is included). Data analyzed through the Branched model showed that children significantly exceeded NASPE guidelines of 60 min of moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) both in winter (MVPA 143.4 ± 67.9 min / day, p <0.001) and in summer ( 178.3 ± 78.8 min / day, p <0, 0001). However, a significant seasonal difference was detected especially for time spent in MPA (MPA: winter 132.2 ± 62.8 min / day; summer 161.6 ± 70.1 min / day, p <0.05). On the contrary, no significant differences appeared between weekly and weekend days (MVPA: weekly days 160.3 ± 86 min / day; weekend days 161.4 ± 86.7 min / day, p = ns). Besides, the between intensity comparison revealed a significant higher amount of time spent in moderate than in vigorous intensity (MPA 146.9 ± 67.2 min / day; VPA 14 ± 12.7 min / day, p <0.001). The main finding of this study is that Actiheart data, taking intensity of activity into account, indicate that Italian young children significantly exceed the minimum activity standard of 60 min of accumulated MVPA per day. Although it is likely that all children should be encouraged to adopt an active lifestyle, it is unclear if 60 min of intermittent, accumulated PA are sufficient to gain health benefits or if it is favorable 60 min of sustained PA. Taking into account seasonal differences, a suggestion could be to increase physical education hours during school time.

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Journal: In ECSS 13th Annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science 2008 (pp. 286-286).

Keywords: children, MVPA, NASPE guidelines, Physical Activity,

Applications: Physical Activity,

CamNtech Reference: AH08008

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